Experience state parks year round.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Celebrate the intense blooming season for California’s state flower, the poppy. Their big, bright flowers create a beautiful orange carpet across 7 miles of trails and hillsides, and saunter through this wondrous display of desert wildflowers.

Photo Credit: Linda Ruiz

California State Capitol

Getting There

Located in the Western Mojave Desert, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is 15 miles west of Lancaster at 15101 Lancaster Road, about 85 miles north of Los Angeles.

From Highway 14: Take the Avenue I exit and head west 15 miles. Avenue I becomes Lancaster Road. From I-5: Take Hwy 138 east and turn right on 170th Street West. Make a left at the end, onto Lancaster Road. Follow the road two miles and turn left into the reserve.

Parking Fees: $10 per vehicle, $9 per vehicle with a senior on board (62 and over), $5 per vehicle with DPR Disabled Discount Card. Trailmaps available at the visitors' center.

Things to Do

Spring is the best time to visit this park because it is when the seasonal California poppies bloom. Though the duration and colors vary from year to year, the wildflower season is generally best from mid-February through late May. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Go for a walk among the poppies as far as the eye can see. It's a great place to take beautiful photos. Get some inspiration from these Antelope Valley poppies on our MyParkPhoto contest.
  • Get up close to California’s bright-orange state flower on an easy 3.3-mile hike. From the visitors’ center, follow a quarter-mile incline to the Tehachapi Vista Point for views of—you guessed it—the snow-capped Tehachapi Mountains. Here, the poppies compete with grape soda lupines and bright yellow goldfields that from a distance could be mistaken for a 1970s shag carpet. Descend to the Poppy Trail’s north loop, now aglow with “cups of gold.” Keep an eye out for a maroon, white-tipped flower known as owl’s clover: do you see an owl’s face in the center of the bloom? Follow the trail back to the visitors’ center to see more poppies on parade. Full details at Weekend Sherpa.
  • Weekend Sherpa bonus: For extra blooms with a view, make the three-quarter-mile ascent to the 2,970-foot Kitanemuk Vista Point where forget-me-nots and poppies mingle with southern views of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountain ranges.
  • Take a bike ride nearby at Lake Elizabeth, located among the foothills of the Sierra Pelona Mountains in LA County. You can pass the lake twice on a 16-mile loop ride. Start from the west end of the lake and get warmed up on Elizabeth Lake Road. Beyond the long blue body, you’ll pass a string of ponds and green fairways in the Lake Elizabeth Golf and Ranch Club. Cross a pass and whiz down a browning canyon to the Antelope Valley, 900 feet below. Biking through this ranchland you’ll spot patches of golden poppies, flourishing not far from the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Let California’s flower motivate you while tackling a long, steady climb up Willow Springs Canyon to Lake Elizabeth. Full details at Weekend Sherpa.

Where to Stay

Visitors may camp at Saddleback Butte State Park which is approximately 32 miles east on the other side of Lancaster. Book a camp site through our travel center! There are numerous hotels in the Palmdale to Lancaster area, so you have endless choices!


Good things to keep in mind when you visit Antelope Valley:

  • Remember, this is the desert. Be prepared for strong winds and bring sunscreen.
  • Don’t pick the flowers! It is a violation of state law. Just enjoy them and leave them for the next visitors to see.
  • Near Saddleback Butte State Park, which is approximately 30 miles east on the other side of Lancaster, is the Antelope Valley Indian Museum which is another area state park well worth a visit. Visitors should also visit venues in downtown Lancaster in an area called the "BLVD" which has locally owned restaurants including the Lemon Leaf, Giannini's Bistro and a local brewpub, the Kinetic Brewery. There is also a new museum, Museum of Art and History (MOAH) and displays of local artists at the "Graphic Experience." The "BLVD" is on the way between Saddleback and the Poppy Reserve. Near the Poppy Reserve, in the community of Lake Hughes the historic Rock Inn restaurant is a must.

Nearby State Parks

While you are in the area, be sure to check out these nearby state parks:

  • Saddleback Butte State Park (32 miles east)
  • Red Rock Canyon State Park (60 miles north)

More Resources

Department of Parks and Recreation: Official Park Webpage

More Fun Ideas at: Weekend Sherpa



California State Parks Foundation

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